Waiting on Wednesday: Don't You Cry

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where the participants tell their readers about an upcoming release they are waiting to read. This week I've picked Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica.

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession.

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

This year, I've been reading a lot more psychological thrillers. Since starting Mary Kubica's novel Pretty Baby, I'll definitely be interested to see how this latest release will compare and how shocking the twist will be - I like to be surprised!

Releasing 17th May 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Reads I've Loved

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by bloggers at The Broke and the BookishThis week I've  picked the top ten books I've loved recently and would recommend.

1. The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub


A brilliantly insightful, relevant and relatable novel; The Yearbook Committee is an Aussie YA contemporary read which takes teen archetypes and makes them something unique.

2. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta


I may not have *loved* it the first time I read it years ago, but on rereading, I can truly appreciate Marchetta's remarkable ability to completely envelop her readers into a story and produce such tangible characters who walk right off the page.

3. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood


Harrowing, memorable and mesmerising, Charlotte Wood's novel is no light read - but it will certainly make you think about the place of women in society and bureaucracies which contain them.

4. The Simple Act of Reading by multiple authors


What's not to love about the genre of 'books about books'? The Simple Act of Reading is a collection of essays where each one holds an aspect of this activity which draws bookworms together and is so relatable.

5. When We Collided by Emery Lord


A contemporary novel with heart, that will make you both smile and perhaps even bring a tear to your eye. One of the top contemporaries for the year - I'm calling it now!

6.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


Taut with suspense and with an unreliable narrator at its core, The Girl on the Train is domestic noir at its best. 

7. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn


So much darker than Gone Girl (as the title would suggest), Flynn's work is equally compulsively readable and perturbing. At its most basic, a 'whodunnit' mystery, and yet it delves into much deeper issues such as moral ambiguity and familial obligation.

8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


I watched season one of the show before reading this, but I'm loving it anyway. Historical fiction that's well written like this makes an 800 page book feel so much shorter. Sidenote: Scotland is my next dream holiday destination.

9. In Your Dreams by Ginger Scott


I've been following Ginger Scott's novels from the start, and each time they've wowed me. In Your Dreams is no exception - it's a romance and so much more.

10. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz


There's more to this book than meets the eye - it's more than just the story of a maid who dreams of being educated and having all the books in the world to read. It also provides insight into her new place of employment and Jewish culture. Definitely something different and quite interesting.

What have some of your top reads been?

Review: The Simple Act of Reading

Monday, 28 March 2016

25787508The Simple Act of Reading
Released: 1st June 2015
Published by: Random House Australia
Genre: Non Fiction
Source: Library
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads | QBD | Book Depository
For it is in the simple act of reading where the living and the dead, the real and the imagined, meet. It is in the simple act of reading where we exercise those two most sacred of human vocations: compassion and creativity. For as we know, without either of these primes there is no possibility for a humanity present or past worth talking about. - Junot Diaz 

 A collection of essays and memoir pieces on the topic of reading, in particular what it means for writers to be readers and how that has shaped their life. The Simple Act of Reading will support Sydney Story Factory by emphasising the importance of reading in shaping an individual's future.

Contributors include; Debra Adelaide, Joan London, Delia Falconer, Sunil Badami, Gabrielle Carey, Luke Davies, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Kate Forsyth, Giulia Giuffre, Andy Griffiths, Anita Heiss, Gail Jones, Jill Jones, Catherine Keenan, Malcolm Knox, Wayne Macauley, Fiona McFarlane, David Malouf, Rosie Scott, Carrie Tiffany and Geordie Williamson.

As a reader, you'll most likely find me in the midst of a gripping work of fiction, where the imagination can run wild and the words on the page are a portal to an infinite number of worlds. However, the genre of 'books about books' has always interested me, and so I picked up The Simple Act of Reading. In this collection of essays and short memoirs, bookworms will find that some aspects of their reading experiences are bound to be reflected in the writings of so many different authors that love to read also.

This is a book which holds some beautifully worded and erudite insights into the multifaceted nature of reading. Something which particularly resonated with me is this piece from the section Reading the Signs by David Malouf:

There are some books that make such a vivid impression on us, put us so deeply under their spell, that our first acquaintance with them becomes a watershed in our lives, and the actual reading - the excited turning of pages over a period of hours or days - seems in retrospect to have taken place in a country all its own, with a light and weather like no other we have ever known.

For some of my most loved novels, this definitely rings true. I still have some memories of reading the books from my childhood when they most enchanted me - and those experiences are almost chimerical when looking back at them now. What's fascinating about a book like this is that it takes the activity of reading, which is fundamentally empiric and of course unique to each individual, and highlights some of the commonalities which many booklovers can relate to. 

This is the almost religious, meditative transcendence of the simple act of reading: that in losing ourselves in the lives of others, we can find ourselves, enabling us to see the world and those around us refracted in a new light - in our own reflection. Where else in the world can we do that? Not even in our dreams.

Perhaps one of the most enticing reasons to read is the fact that it can envelop you into anything from another planet and fantastical settings, to the contemporary versions of our own. Yet more importantly than that, what has been done so well in The Simple Act of Reading is accentuate that in having a glimpse into the lives of others, we as readers are bound to find elements of ourselves. This is arguably what makes characters relatable to us, and reading as riveting as it can be. On the contrary, reading about characters which are apparently totally different to our own selves can make us more empathetic as people, and more aware of the many nuances which define our sociey.

Like old love letters or diaries, books we once loved are souvenirs of times we do and don't want to forget, which might be why they're almost impossible to throw away without some sense of loss, even as we cannot recall all the particulars. There's a reason we give new lovers and friends and our children copies of the books we love; we're giving them a part of ourselves in an act of faith even greater than lending them.

As well as exploring the immaterial aspects of reading, this book also brings to light the joys (and perhaps perils) of owning and lending books. There are some books on my shelf which I know I will never be able to part with, since they hold too much sentimental value. While I may lend books to people in the hope that it will return to me in the same condition they received it, what's of greater significance is that maybe they will enjoy it too, and we can then discuss it afterwards.

The books that have meant the most to me have felt like the deepest secrets, as though I was the only person to have ever discovered them. But is there any greater elation than discovering someone loves the very same book you thought no one had heard of? All of a sudden, you share a secret, a dream, a memory, in a way your individual experiences and lives never could.

As I mentioned, this book is full of edifying quotes, though the one above is certainly a favourite. With so many books out there, from the glowing bestsellers to the unbeknownst gems just around the corner, it is one of the best feelings as a reader to find someone else who loves the same book you do. This is what can form friendships, and bring whole communities together. That "Oh, you read that book - me too!" moment is a magical one in itself (well, as long as they didn't hate the book...or that might be a little awkward). In any case, books generate discussion - something which takes the solitary activity of turning pages to the next level.


In all, what made me love this book was finding so many of the reasons why I love reading reflected back at me. Though some essays I could relate to more than others, to see how these authors have also been enthralled and fascinated by reading in general was a memorable experience. If you're generally a fiction reader and wanting something inspiring and expertly written, then this is for you.

Reading is a kind of waking dream, where we can believe the magic is real, in a way we know it can never be in real life - Sunil Badami

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
Released: 5th January 2016
Published by: HarperCollins
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
Pages: 464
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
passage, n. i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes. ii. A journey by water; a voyage. iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time. In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now. Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily.

Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not. Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever
Passenger is one of the most talked about and hyped releases to hit 2016, giving rise to some pretty high expectations on my part. I'm a huge fan of Alexandra Bracken's 'The Darkest Minds' trilogy (which I have fangirled about on goodreads here), and so was definitely excited to read this book as part of a new series. While I feel this is something I did like for the most part, I have had some conflicting opinions about it which I'm breaking down in this review:

What I enjoyed:

Timey-whimey stuff

We need more time travel in YA! It was great to see that element brought to life in Passenger, with settings from New York in the present day, to the same city back in 1776, London in the midst of WWII, Angkor in 1685, Paris in the late 1800's and Damascus in the late 16th century. Bracken has definitely done a good job in terms of trying to make the concept plausible with the introduction of the 'astrolabe'. Travelling between these dimensions and timeframes will be somewhat familiar to readers like myself who are fans of Claudia Gray's Firebird series thus far, though Passenger does differ in that it is focused more on past destinations than those in the future. While in some aspects I found that this element of the story was overshadowed by others, such as the romance and complexities of the Ironwood conspiracy, I'm still glad that it was there as one of the main ingredients. 

Dual POV's

The dual perspectives from both Etta and Nicholas is subtly done in this book, which I actually liked. Although both originally from vastly different societies and timeframes, it was interesting to see how they formed a slowly developing bond. The 'Etta as a gifted violinist' part of her character is one I would have perhaps liked to see more of throughout the novel, however the fierce loyalty to her family and those closest to her did make her a character you wanted to see succeed in her mission. Nicholas on the other hand had already struggled to overcome challenges in the early years of his life due to the racial prejudices of the time, and his protective nature over Etta was admirable. Though at times their relationship was frustrating it and isn't one of my top OTP's, I think that they make a pretty good pair overall. 

Pirates! (sort of)

Yes, that's right - the 'shiver me timbers' type that we love to see in 'Pirates of the Carribean' did make an appearance in this book. It's something that I haven't really seen much of in the genre, and found it quite a unique addition. I was expecting this to be a more prominent element of the story initially (as the cover led me to believe), so I only wish that there was more!

What I didn't:

Long-winded prose

There were definitely some short bursts of action that piqued my interest, but in some places the story did tend to drag. At close to 500 pages long, while I wouldn't say I was bored, I found some sections where the characters internalised a lot of their thoughts to be long-winded. There doesn't have to be a thrill that gets your heart racing the whole time, but more dialogue for me is what I would have preferred to break up those long passages. 


It's undeniable that the ending left me wanting to know more! Alexandra Bracken has always known how to handle a good cliffhanger that will leave readers itching to read the next book she's got in store...and this is no exception. That's what brought me back to being excited about Passenger and what could transpire in the novels to follow, despite the small qualms I had with this.


Overall, Passenger may not have quite met my towering expectations, but it's still a book I'd recommend giving a try. Even though it wasn't perfection for me as a reader, it ultimately made me excited for the next instalment - and that's the main thing!

Waiting on Wednesday: You Will Know Me

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where the participants tell their readers about an upcoming release they are waiting to read. This week I've picked You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott.


Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.

From a writer with "exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl," (Janet Maslin) YOU WILL KNOW ME is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

Megan Abbott's novels that I've read so far - Dare Me, The End of Everything and The Fever have all wowed me with their atmospheric quality and equally captivating and disturbing storylines. I've been looking forward to her next novel for a long time, and certainly am looking forward to this one!

Releasing 26th July 2016